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Tuesday, 25 January 2011 10:20

Green Exercise

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A couple of weeks ago, I came across the term "Green Exercise" in a magazine. How clever, I thought. I had never heard that term before. Was that really a recognized phrase? I Googled it out of curiosity and lo' and behold, a lot of articles popped up. I thought it might be a good topic for a blog in the Environment quadrant of the Four Quadrant Living website, so I filed the idea away for the coming weeks. Coincidentally, a week later, I was contacted by a publisher of a local magazine asking me to write an article about being active in the natural settings of the San Francisco East Bay, focusing on why being outdoors is so important for mind, body, and spirit. I now had a title and focus for my article, "Green Exercise - Good for the Sole and Soul".

So, what is green exercise? Green exercise is defined as any physical activity done in the presence of nature, such as walking, biking, hiking, running, and gardening. We know that exercise is good for our body and being in nature is good for our mind. Combine the two—Green Exercise—and you have an activity that is good for our body and mind. And sometimes it even creates a majestic experience that nourishes our spirit. My friend Janet who loves to run the local trails with her dog Chloe describes it like this: "I never feel as one with the universe as I do on the trails. That's where I align with my power. That's where I find meditation."

Writing about green exercise is perfect for this week's blog because of the amazing weather we are having right now in Northern California in the dead of winter. It's time to take advantage of the sun and head outside. Today I went for a walk. For the first half of the walk, I was listening to my iPod. On the way back, I decided to unplug and just appreciate the beautiful day. Suddenly my entire experience shifted. I was unquestionably more connected to what was going on around me. When I was listening to my tunes, I was completely self-involved (and undeniably enjoying myself), but when I took my headsets off, I was instantly part of the environment. I could hear the birds chirping, sounding as joyful as I felt with the sunny weather. I sensed the presence of the other happy people and their dogs enjoying the day. Others had gone virtually unnoticed when I was plugged in. Green Exercise is clearly a four quadrant activity—one that nourishes the body and mind and connects us to others (relationships) and the environment.

Next time you’re are debating between the gym or the neighborhood, choose the latter. Even if the cold chill returns, just bundle up a bit more and head outside. The pay-off is worth it. Notice the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Do you hear the laughter of kids playing in the distance? Do you see the beautiful cloud formation in the sky? How does the earth feel beneath your feet? How does the rain, snow, or wind feel on your face? If you bring your faithful four-legged companion along, be present and let him lead the way. We can all take a lesson from dogs on how to truly enjoy a walk outdoors! Stop and smell when the urge strikes, wander when you want, and run at high speeds at will.

What Green Exercise will you do this week and how will it nourish your sole and soul?

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You never know what you will find along your way during
Green Exercise such as a seal on the beach, Hawaii 2011.

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Published Articles

Green Exercise: Good for the Sole and Soul
Natural Awakenings, March 2011

Sustainable Danville Area: Find Your People
Danville Today News, February 2012 (Page 6)

Are Genetically Modified Foods Making Your Child Sick?
Active Kids, June 2012 (Page 23)